START Now is a New Zealand based human innovation company, that’s purpose is to help people find meaning and happiness in their work. Based in Auckland we are an agile business which is proud to work with courageous individuals seeking a new start in their life & career, as well as businesses looking to bring new value to their employees.

Melissa Jenner founder of START Now is the only NZ based professional accredited in the Stanford Design your Life programme. Design your Life is an initiative from Stanford University to help individuals design multiple possible futures for themselves, and embrace design tools such as ideation, storytelling and prototyping to find their pathway. At START Now, we integrate these tools into our programme to support people to find their future by leveraging world-leading methodologies adapted for local needs.

Melissa Jenner, Founder

START NOW was founded by New Zealander Melissa Jenner in 2015, built out of a deep desire to help others re-build their careers after her own experience.

“I found myself suddenly wanting and needing a new direction, but with no idea how to begin. Everywhere I looked, everyone and everything was telling me “just follow your purpose” or “do what you love”. Fine, but how? What I realised was starting a new direction needs a good process. It’s risky, and I needed a method I could rely on”.

Melissa left her role as Director of Better by Design for NZ Trade & Enterprise to create START NOW. Trained in Design Thinking at Stanford d-School, Melissa pioneered the application of Design Thinking to the personal innovation challenge many people face – re-imagining and building a career they love.

Before she found Design Thinking, Melissa was a Marketer, a Strategist and a General Manager. With over 20 years experience, she has worked in senior management roles for a range of big corporates (including Microsoft and Barclays) some of the world’s more creative businesses (including Saatchi & Saatchi), and in some of the biggest cities in the world (including London & New York).

In addition to running START NOW she is Head of Design & Innovation at Grant Thornton, a coach on the Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Programme and for the Auckland Co-Design Lab.

Allysa Smales, Design Facilitator

Allysa has spent the last 20 years honing her skills in understanding and interpreting needs and behaviours.  Having spent much of her career in qualitative research working in both New Zealand and the UK, she has spent many hours speaking to, observing and spending time alongside people in their everyday lives to better understand how, what and why they behave and how products, services and experiences can be enhanced to meet their undeclared needs. 

Allysa currently works as a research lead in user centred design company Thoughtfull, leading organisations towards better experiences. Her skills in user centred design, coupled with an innate curiosity and passion for understanding people, meant STARTNow was a natural next step.  

Allysa balances her work with Thoughtfull and STARTNow alongside juggling three kids at home, and loves the satisfaction in helping clients realise their potential and make positive change.

Ngaire Woodhams, Business Manager

Ngaire’s career has been spent making things happen and getting things done – whether it’s organising large scale conferences and events or producing design projects – her superpower is making the complexitites of daily working life, easy.

Ngaire crossed paths with Melissa at Better by Design (part of NZ Trade & Enterprise). It was there that she ‘found’ design thinking and has grown passionate about helping people unlock their creativity. She is a natural connector of people and is always seeking out ways to help others put a foot in the right direction. 

“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”Anonymous